History is littered with the corpses of car and motorcycle manufacturers that didn’t survive various economic crises and paradigm shifts and, unfortunately, boutique manufacturer Mondial is listed amongst the fallen. While we normally associate the failure of a manufacturer with the quality of their products, it’s generally far more complicated than that. The 1960’s saw a glut of cheap, incredibly well-engineered motorcycles from Japan flood a market formerly dominated by the European manufacturers that had grown by leaps and bounds in a postwar economy bolstered by the demand for inexpensive wheeled transportation.
Although the handling of these inexpensive machines was pretty far off the standard established by the racebred motorcycles from England and Italy, for most people, that hardly mattered, and quality, reliability, and even cheap speed trumped the cornering prowess of bikes from companies like Mondial.
Mondial built motorcycles from 1948-1979 and were very successful in Grand Prix racing during the 1950s. Although most Italian manufacturers of this period focused their efforts on practical, affordable transportation, Mondial was much more interested in building small-volume, high-quality motorcycles with a more sporting intent. Perhaps could be considered the Velocette of Italy. With handbuilt quality and performance, they could perhaps be thought of as the Italian equivalent of Italy and even designed and built a desmodromic cylinder head before Ducati, although it was never actually produced.
From the original eBay listing: 1953 Mondial 200 Sport
1953 Mondial 200 Sport in very nice restored condition. Everything has been redone. Motor was rebuilt in Italy and runs and shifts fine. Bike went through an extensive cosmetic restoration. All chrome has been redone and all aluminum has had many hours of polishing. Bike comes with a clean title. Any questions about the bike you can contact me directly. This is a super rare bike and a great opportunity to add to any bike collection.
Interestingly, the year 2000 saw a brief revival of the Mondial name and the creation of a Honda RC51 -powered superbike. This unusual engine choice was only possible because in 1957, Mondial provided Honda with one of their winning racebikes to use as inspiration. Honda wanted to repay the gesture and allowed the new Mondial superbike to use their engine.
With its striking red and gold paint, this might easily be mistaken for a 50’s Ducati, although Mondial’s traditional colors were generally silver and blue. Bidding is active on this little Mondial, with just one day left on the auction. At $7,700 the reserve has been met, which seems a fair price for such a good-looking, unusual motorcycle.